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Ford Sales Up, But Chrysler And G.m. Lag, Despite Rebates

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The federal government’s “cash for clunkers†program made August the best month of the year for new-vehicle sales in the United States, automakers said Tuesday.

Early numbers indicate that total industry sales increased, compared to a year ago, for the first time since October 2007.

But the numbers also show the troubles facing automakers — sales fell dramatically in the last week of the month, after the $3 billion trade-in program came to an end. Analysts say the rest of the year will again be slow, though not as miserable as the first half.

The Ford Motor Company, said its sales rose 17 percent last month from a year ago, marking the first time since 2006 that Ford’s sales rose in two consecutive months. Its sales rose 2.3 percent in July.

Ford also said its retail market share, which excludes bulk deliveries to businesses and governments, rose for the 10th time in 11 months.

Hyundai, the South Korean carmaker, said its sales jumped 47 percent last month to a record-high. Honda said sales rose 10 percent, while Toyota’s rose 6 percent.

But the clunkers program was not enough for two of the three Detroit companies to even match their 2008 numbers. General Motors said its sales fell 20 percent from last August, and Chrysler reported a 15 percent decline. Both companies are trying to recover from their short stints in bankruptcy protection several months ago. G.M. said it would have been difficult to beat its sales figure from a year ago, when it ran an employee-discount promotion in honor of its 100th anniversary. Nissan’s sales fell 3 percent.

At Ford, sales of the F-series, a large pickup truck popular among building contractors, rose for the first time since October 2006, a positive sign for the automotive market and the broader economy, the company said. Ford sold 13 percent more of the F-series and 57 percent more of a smaller pickup, the Ranger.

“It may be a glimmer of hope,†Ken Czubay, Ford’s vice president of marketing, sales and service in the United States, said on a conference call. “We believe the 4th quarter will be better than the second quarter and the first half of this year. The light is beginning to shine on a brighter economic base for the United States.â€

The clunkers program, which gave consumers a credit of $3,500 or $4,500 if they turned in an older vehicle and bought a new, more fuel-efficient one, led to nearly 700,000 sales in a one-month period. It began July 24 and received a $2 billion extension from Congress after its popularity greatly outstripped expectations in its first week.

The surge in demand caused many dealers to run low on inventory of popular vehicles, especially small and midsize cars. Most automakers are ramping up production to replenish those inventories. G.M. is calling back about 1,350 hourly workers to factories in Ohio and Ontario, and factories operated by a variety of companies are suddenly running on overtime, something that has been extremely rare since the market’s slump began in 2008.

“We estimate that as much as 60 percent of vehicle sales under the program represented ‘stimulated demand’ from consumers who were not otherwise intending to buy,†Bruce Clark, a senior vice president at Moody’s in New York, wrote in a report this week. “While the program pulled forward some sales that would have occurred later, we are maintaining our base-case scenario of an 11.5 million unit†market in 2010.

So no surprises there then as soon as the rebate ended sales collapsed. Now someone might wish to argue that the prices cars where selling for where the correct price level, but if your thinking that go and wash your mouth out with soap and water.

Edited by interestrateripoff

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